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Thread: GFCI Heads-up!

  1. #1
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    Default GFCI Heads-up!

    I don't know how many of you have found this but thought I would give a heads-up just to be sure. Today I found the second GFCI receptacle that protects down stream outlets but does not protect itself. The first one I found was a month or so ago and thought it was just a fluke, this second one suggest it may be more common than I thought. Just because it pops out with the test button, or works from another receptacle via test button does not mean it is working.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    I don't know how many of you have found this but thought I would give a heads-up just to be sure. Today I found the second GFCI receptacle that protects down stream outlets but does not protect itself. The first one I found was a month or so ago and thought it was just a fluke, this second one suggest it may be more common than I thought. Just because it pops out with the test button, or works from another receptacle via test button does not mean it is working.
    It could be a wiring fault. I test for that, and find it in remodeled houses, not so much new construction. I have been saying repair it, but would like to know if it is Line and Load crossed up?

    That is the reason just testing the button is not a complete test. BTW.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    The built-in test button is the only UL recognized test method for a GFI or AFCI.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The built-in test button is the only UL recognized test method for a GFI or AFCI.
    Use the button but you must test to see if the button does it's job by using a volt meter, light or other device. I find many times on older style GFCI outlets that they are wired incorrectly and will "trip" when the test button is pressed on the outlet (or tester) but the outlet remains hot although downstream outlets may be dead. The newer outlets seem to have this possibility of miswiring licked.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The built-in test button is the only UL recognized test method for a GFI or AFCI.
    Yeah, so they say. The Underwriter's lab guys should get out in the real world, where there are thousands of incorrectly installed GFCI's, thanks, Jim L., the older models. The test for power after tripping finds them.

    I understand the problem with AFCI testing. We can't duplicate an arc fault in a handheld tester for some reason. I found an AFCI breaker installed with reversed polarity last year. All the outlets showed reverse polarity. I don't think it was protecting anybody that way.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    Happened to me today. The button popped out but the power was still on. Weird, eh? It was in an old non-grounded house, which may have something to do with it, although there are lots of old houses like that around here. It's not usually an issue.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    That may have been an older GFI without the self test feature that locks out the power if the circuitry has failed.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    I install one brand of GFCI as a matter of course and a second brand when I can't get my favorite. Both of these came in a tripped condition when purchased and will not reset to functioning if line and load are wired wrong. These are the newer type where this behavior is required. YMMV with other brands. I don't change what I use unless I don't have a choice so I'm not familiar with all of them.

    With older GFCIs the classic sign of having line and load reversed is just what was described - the downstream receptacles disconnect but the GFCI receptacle doesn't.

    The fact the downstream receptacles DO disconnect is a sign that the internals of the GFCI are working right in an old style GFCI.

    Whether or not there is a ground wire makes NO difference to the GFCI. It works by measuring the current on the hot and neutral and trips if they are different by 5 milliamps - give or take a mA - measuring the current can be done very precisely so this doesn't vary much. Lack of a ground wire will cause a "tester" not to trip the GFCI as it dumps a small current to ground to make the device trip.

    If you are on the 2011 NEC then the GFCI must be replaced as any time a receptacle is removed it must be replaced with a tamper resistant type - a good excuse to get rid of an older device and put one in that won't operate if wired wrong, and is a more reliable design to boot.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    I agree with Jim and Bill - that was an older GFCI and it was quite common for the older GFCIs to be installed mis-wired line/load and not protected itself.

    The newer GFCIs have the mis-wired lock-out feature.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI Heads-up!

    I find that a couple of times a month.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

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